In view of the extended winter, it may not seem like it, but ideal biking season is just around the corner. Particularly as enrollment for Citi Bike continues to grow, with 137,000 annual members as of January 2018, a 56% increase from the same time in 2015, there will be more bikes on the road as the weather heats up.
An increase in bikes on the road, unfortunately, means that more cyclists could be in danger if motorists act negligently or ignore the rules of the road: thus the need for more caution and awareness. We can see this when looking at data for cyclists injured in New York City in 2017, over which time 19 cyclists were killed in traffic accidents.
Source: New York Police Department
Unfortunately, the mass and top speed of bicycles versus cars means that cyclists assume a certain degree of added risk every time they take to the road. One example of this is the problem of motor vehicles parking in bike lanes, which poses a major hazard to cyclists forced to navigate around cars out of the designated bike lane. To keep oneself safe, there are some safety tips that New York cyclists should observe:
- Wear a helmet: The simplest and most effective way to protect your head in the event of an accident.
- Pass behind pedestrians: Going behind pedestrians as they cross the street is safer than going in front of them, as pedestrians tend to move forwards rather than back in the face of oncoming traffic.
- Stay on the road: You are more likely to hit a pedestrian on the sidewalk or get “doored” by a parked car than you are to be hit by a motor vehicle solidly inside the lane of traffic.
- Use bike lanes whenever possible: New York laws state that if there is a usable bicycle lane, “the bicyclists must use it.”
- Don’t wear headphones when you ride: Listening to music or podcasts makes it harder to hear oncoming cars, pedestrians or other cyclists.
- Ride in a straight line: When you ride predictably and obey all traffic signs and signals, you reduce your chances of getting into a bike accident.
- Make your intentions obvious: This includes body language and eye contact with other drivers and cyclists. Show where you intend to ride as clearly as possible to avoid any confusion.
What If An Accident Does Happen?
When accidents happen, you will want to be prepared and have an idea of what to do ahead of time, as collisions can be very stressful events that happen in the blink of an eye. Here are some important steps you can take to protect yourself in the immediate aftermath of the wreck:
- Stay at the scene: Not only is it the law, it is also the best way to make sure the circumstances of the accident and its aftermath are properly documented.
- Check for injuries: Give yourself a thorough examination. If you’re lucky enough to emerge unscathed, take a moment to make sure no one else has been hurt. No matter what, see a doctor as soon as possible. Injuries that may not show symptoms for hours or days could be caught early by a doctor. Having medical documentation will be crucial in the event a personal injury claim stems from the accident.
- Exchange information: Names, addresses, phone numbers and other info will be helpful in the event you decide to file an insurance claim.
- Snap some photos: If you have your phone or other mobile device with you, take a few pictures of the scene. It could become important evidence.
- Notify your insurance company: Your homeowners, renters or auto policy (if you have personal injury protection) may cover you in the event of a bicycle accident.
Contact a personal injury lawyer: If you’ve been injured in a bike accident, you’ll want an experienced personal injury attorney by your side to help fight for your rights and the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have recorded numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of cyclists hit by other vehicles:
- $2,100,000 settlement for a 23-year-old student who required spinal fusion surgery after being hit by a garbage truck while riding his bike
- $1,300,00 settlement for a cyclist who suffered herniated discs after being hit by a van which was exiting a beach club and making a right turn
- $1,250,000 settlement for a 23-year-old bicycle messenger was hit at an intersection after an SUV ran a red light